Thursday, March 12, 2009

F-Zero GX

Two weeks ago, Best Buy, Toys 'r Us, and all announced that they will be entering into the used video game arena. This will be good for all you bargain bin shoppers, as the competition will open up more games to the $9.99 and under arena. Keeping with this change of pace, I'm adding Amazon pricing to my reviews. I'll also start adding BB and TrU prices when I pick up games there.

Price : $7.99 at Gamestop, $4.99-$27.49 on Amazon

Players: 1-4

Rating: Teen: Comic Mischief, Mild Violence, Suggestive Themes

Save file size: 4 Blocks*

Other Notes: Progressive scan compatible. Connect your GCN Memory Card to F-Zero AX arcade machine for bonus features.

*game save requires 4 blocks. To use the Garage and make custom vehicles, this feature requires an additional 18 blocks.

The F-Zero Series has been around since the Super Nintendo era, and it still packs the same "oomph" that it did way back when. The game is set in the future and centers around high speed (and stakes) hovercraft racing. Racers have different stats based around body resilience, boost speed, weight, and surface grip. As you complete GP circuits, you can unlock up to 30 different characters.

Let me get this out now: this game is blisteringly fast. I cannot count the number of times that I had trouble keeping up with what was happening on-screen. Graphically, the game is gorgeous and the GCN's processor does a good job keeping up with all the action on the track. I don't recall seeing any chopping or pauses while playing the game. Tracks are varied and diverse, and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge several tracks offered. The AI is smart and challenging, and will test even the most seasoned racing veteran. Time trial, GP, and versus modes keep the replay value on this game very high

No game is without its flaws, and F-Zero GX is no exception. Story mode, where most of the goodies are unlocked, is either mind-numbingly easy or so hard it seems broken. I did not like the story mode at all. The garage, where you can create your own custom racers takes waaaay too much space on the memory card for what it provides. Custom racers look like poorly made lego creations, and lack the panache that the pre-rendered vehicles deliver. The Emblem editor is impossible to use for all but those with master's degrees in graphic design. Even then, the emblems don't look all that great in the first place. When left on the system defaults, the controls are inhumanly tight. You need to calibrate the game for your controller each time you start it up, especially if you use a different controller each time. I'm just glad they included controller calibration in this game.

This game sort of reminds me of Star Wars: Episode I Racer for the N64. It has similar challenge while keeping up the fun factor. There's enough diversity in the 30 different racers to give a good romp to any race fan. The learning curve for this game is painstakingly steep, and will require serious practice before newcomers will be able to race with the best. Once you've crossed all the necessary hurdles, this game will keep you coming back for more.

Parent's notes: This game packs a lot of challenge. While there's not a whole lot of questionable content, the steep learning curve will drive away most youngsters looking for a race. It's alright for the teenager, but younger audiences will have difficulty understanding what's going on.